PHILIPSBURG:--- Leader of the United People’s Party MP Rolando Brison is following up on the motion of August 13th, 2019 in which the government was asked to ensure the millions of guilders owed by Shipyard N.V and its then director Michael Ferrier are paid, and that allegations of Fraud and Forgery by Mr. Ferrier be investigated.
“Considering the difficult financial position the country finds itself in, it is very important for the government to increase collections of long lease land, especially of those entities and their directors who have failed to make payments due to the government for large parcels of commercial land,” Brison stated in his letter to Ministers of Finance and VROMI, Irion and Doran.
“One such example is the entity of Shipyard N.V. As you are aware, this company had owed the government millions in long lease fees that were never paid. Documents presented to Parliament show that Mr. Michael Ferrier, former Minister of Finance, was a director at the company responsible for the payment of leases during which the huge sum was accumulated, an amount in the millions of guilders. Mr. Ferrier based on the documentation with parliament removed himself as director at one point, but then sent letters to the Council of Ministers on March 26th, 2019 on behalf of Shipyard, a paradox that was difficult for members of parliament at the time to reconcile, due to the lack of clarity the government at the time was willing to provide,” stated Brison.
Brison believes it is important for the government to collect these funds as soon as possible. He believes that all options should be exhausted, including holding directors personally liable in the event Shipyard N.V is not able to pay. “If Ferrier was indeed a director at the time, then he may need to go pay.”
“Especially considering that this was a motion of Parliament of August 13th, 2019, which was presented by MP Emmanuel at the time and supported by 5 other members and voted down against by only 3 including MP Wescot Williams, I would like an update on the progress of this case, and when collections can begin, and if need be, if the statutory director responsible for such reckless behavior in not giving the people of St. Maarten what is due for the use of that land,” Brison stated, before presenting questions to the Ministers as follows:
Questions to you Minister of Finance:
1) What is the current debt from Shipyard N.V and Mr. Michael Ferrier, the company and director respectively that according to the motion of March 13th 2019 has accrued a large number of late fees, legal fees, and legal interest?
2) Can the government confirm what agreements or attempts were made to have this amount deferred, written off, or renegotiated in any way during the tenure of the UD/SMCP government?
3) In its last update to parliament, the government stated this case was brought to the courts. What is the latest outcome of such litigation?
4) To what extent is a statutory director of a company, despite removing himself after the fact, personally liable for such a huge debt accrued? If Shipyard is unable to pay, is the statutory director at the time held personally liable?
5) In the motion of parliament, it states that in a letter from Mr. Ferrier on March 26th, 2019 he was impersonating a director of Shipyard NV. However, chamber of commerce records show at that point, after the debt was accumulated, he resigned as director. If indeed his letter to the council of ministers was signed as a director of Shipyard, is this considered to be forgery as per article 2:185 of the penal code? If this is the case, has this infraction been reported to the authorities?
6) As was mentioned in the Parliament meeting of August 13th, 2019, it was alleged that in a meeting following his letter of March 26th, Mr. Ferrier tried to convince the council of ministers to renegotiate a “settlement“ with shipyard NV that allegedly would allow them to avoid payments? Can you share what attempts were made for such renegotiation by the Council of Ministers? And if it is indeed so, is the Council of Ministers prepared to shield itself from previous breaches of integrity? After all, as the saying goes “old habits die hard”, and it is important to protect the council of Ministers from a repeat of such behavior.
7) Can the Minister provide a plan of action for the collection of these funds, and if the statutory director of that time is held personally liable, a plan of action to begin the collection of the millions of guilders from him?
8) What are some of the ways the Minister of Finance could propose such much-needed funds be used if finally collected, after going uncollected for over a decade?
Questions to the Minister of VROMI:
1) Who currently holds the lease of land known as Shipyard N.V?
2) What are the plans for this property?
3) Is their grounds due to lack of payment for repossession, if that has not been done already?
4) What measures can the Ministry of VROMI implement to prevent such a long backlog of payments as was allowed by past governments prevented from happening again in the future?
5) Has Mr. Ferrier also come to your office, or communicated in writing, as he did with your predecessor Minister Giterson, to “negotiate” on behalf of Shipyard NV?